Southfield’s JVS Human Services’ New Simulated Shopping and Warehouse Centers Offer Training to Workers with Disabilities

Metro Detroit nonprofit agency JVS Human Services, which helps job seekers of all backgrounds and abilities achieve their employment goals, has opened two new programs to help individuals with disabilities become fluent in skills needed in a growing industry.
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JVS Human Services' simulated shopping center
JVS Human Services has opened its simulated shopping and warehouse centers to help train individuals with disabilities for jobs. // Photo courtesy of JVS Human Services

Metro Detroit nonprofit agency JVS Human Services, which helps job seekers of all backgrounds and abilities achieve their employment goals, has opened two new programs to help individuals with disabilities become fluent in skills needed in a growing industry.

A new simulated supermarket setting in the organization’s Southfield headquarters is training potential employees to shop for online grocery pick-up. In its Detroit location, a new simulated warehouse sorting and fulfillment center is training individuals with disabilities to understand work requirements while practicing and improving their skills prior to job placement.

“Meaningful employment is a huge stepping stone toward independence and self-worth for everyone, including those with disabilities,” says James Willis, vice president and workforce development and rehabilitation of JVS Human Services. “We are so proud to be part of creating an employment pipeline for people with disabilities in a major, and importantly, expanding job sector.”

Kroger has worked with JVS Human Services for many years, placing employees with disabilities at their stores throughout metro Detroit. The company has just employed a graduate of the simulated shopping training for its curbside grocery pick-up program, Kroger Pickup.

“Kroger is proud to support and offer a bright future, filled with success, to individuals with disabilities,” says Rachel Hurst, corporate affairs manager of The Kroger Co. – Michigan Division. “Inclusion has been a core value of our company for more than 100 years and still stands today. Every person has a special ability, and we know we can help them excel in their personal growth.”

At JVS’s shopping market in Southfield, job seekers learn to retrieve and read customers’ shopping lists on their phones, search supermarket aisles for items ordered, weigh produce, scan all the items, and bag them. Potential employees are also thrown curveballs, such as situations where items are not available, and are taught to call customers and offer alternatives.

Individuals at JVS’s simulated warehouse in Detroit spend time putting boxes on conveyor belts, pallets, and other locations so products can be shipped off to consumers. There are also opportunities to try picking jobs that involve reading a computer screen for the location of products that need to be selected for shipping. Individuals are assessed for accuracy and speed and can be given adjustments to improve their performance. So far, 21 workers have been placed in warehouse fulfillment jobs after going through the program.

JVS Human Services has helped individuals and businesses since 1941. The agency helps job seekers jumpstart their careers, provides programs for people with disabilities, and helps seniors remain active and engaged in the community. Candidates interested in JVS’s simulated programs must have a disability and be willing to apply for services with Michigan Rehabilitation Services.

Individuals interested in pursuing training can contact Lydia Gray at JVS Human Services, 248-233-4480 orlgray@jvshumanservices.org.

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